Major Pit Road Mistake Costs Allgaier at Indianapolis

With just a couple of laps remaining in the second stage of Saturday afternoon's Lilly Diabetes 250, NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Justin Allgaier was in the lead and looked to be a strong contender for the victory. All the hopes were quickly dashed just a few minutes later when Allgaier made a major mistake on a pit stop.

Crew chief Jason Burdett decided to pit the #7 Breyer's Ice Cream/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet early and before the end of the second segment, a move that Burdett has employed several times this year in an effort to give Allgaier good track position for the final segment.

Allgaier came down pit road but for some reason stopped with the right front of the splitter outside the pit box. It required Allgaier and the crew to back the car up and get it completely inside the pit box before work on the car could begin, obviously losing Allgaier precious time and patience. The crew began their work, changing tires and putting in fuel, but for some reason Allgaier took off too soon and well before the right side tires were applied. He took the air gun of the front tire changer with him for one major penalty that would have been assessed but a more serious situation would follow.

The right front wheel wasn't even affixed to the hub fully and about halfway around IMS' long, 2.5-mile configuration, the wheel stopped turning and stopped perpendicular to the car, tearing up the fender and hood and forcing Allgaier to stop the car and killing his chance to win at the Brickyard. The crew was able to make enough repairs to the car in the garage to send Justin back onto the race track before the finish and the #7 took the checkers in a very disappointing 35th place, 14 laps in arrears.

"I'm beginning to think that Indianapolis and I don't go together," Justin said. "I don't think I've ever finished a race here without something crazy happening. Ultimately, I made a mistake there. I got the right front out too far (during the pit stop), and we tried to back up and it just snowballed from there. It took us out of the opportunity to have a good finish."

A good finish is what Justin was counting on after posting two finishes of 30th or worse in two of his last three races that knocked him out of the second position in driver points and saw JR Motorsports rookie teammate William Byron move ahead of him in points after winning two races. Ironically, it was Byron who rallied late in the race Saturday to win it in his very first race at Indianapolis, an impressive performance that saw Byron successfully block and hold off a charging Paul Menard over the final two laps as if he had driven on the circuit for 10 years instead of just 18 races.

Allgaier had a very fast race car and started the event in 4th place. He ran with the lead pack of cars early before reporting that the car was running too tight in the corners. During the first caution, which was a NASCAR competition yellow period in the first segment with the #7 running in the top ten, Burdett ordered Allgaier to pit for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Another issue on pit road slowed down the stop and Justin was only able to get out in 24th place when the race re-started on lap 21.

Justin worked his way up to 11th and out of the driver points over the final nine laps of the first segment and pitted again during the end-of-segment yellow to get four more tires, fuel and another adjustment. He started the second segment in 12th and charged his way up to 5th before another caution period on lap 39 came out for a 4-car incident in turn four. Allgaier moved up to 4th on lap 45 after racing resumed but again reported to his crew that the car began running tight again.

The team opted not to pit on another caution on lap 50, and on the first lap of the re-start, Allgaier forged his way from 4th place to the lead in impressive fashion and immediately marked himself as a contender for the win. Justin held the lead for four laps, fending off attempts by Kyle Busch and JRM teammate Elliott Sadler for the top spot. With just a handful of laps remaining in the second segment, Burdett made the call to bring the #7 down pit road early for a pit stop that would guarantee Justin a top of the pack position for the start of the final segment after the lead lap cars made their pit stops during the end-of-segment caution.

All of this strategy was working into Justin's favor until he made the mistake of not stopping inside his pit box.

Justin's 35th place finish is his 3rd finish of 30th or worse in his last four races and has dropped him back to 3rd in points - a massive 133 behind point leader Sadler who finished 4th Saturday. Allgaier has now lost 108 points to Sadler over the last five races but is guaranteed a spot in the end-of-season Playoffs by virtue of his win at Phoenix early in the season.

"I just hate it for these guys," Allgaier said of his crew. "We had a super-fast car. It was really good, and we didn't have anything to show for it," he added.

Following Byron's 3rd trip to the checkers first in a race this season was Menard, Joey Logano, Sadler and Cole Custer.